In Tashkent, Modi engages China on NSG membership


As India makes a strong bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent and is understood to have sought China’s support for it, seen as very crucial to take forward the process.

The outcome of the meeting between Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi will determine the proceedings of the NSG’s two-day plenary that began in Seoul on Thursday, sources said.

Briefing the media on the bilateral talks, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Prime Minister Modi urged Mr. Xi to “make a fair and objective assessment of India’s application and judge it on its own merit.”

“He [Mr. Modi] said China should contribute to the emerging consensus in Seoul,” Mr. Swarup said.

Mr. Modi arrived in Tashkent to a warm welcome as he kicked off a two-day visit to attend the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with the aim of expanding India’s engagement with the China-dominated grouping in areas of security, defence and energy.

In a special gesture, Mr. Modi was received at the Tashkent international airport by his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoev.

In the two-day summit that began on Thursday, the SCO will start the process of India’s accession to the grouping as a full-fledged member, along with Pakistan.

Prior to his departure to Tashkent, Mr. Modi said in New Delhi that India looked forward to a fruitful outcome of its engagement at the SCO summit.

India’s entry into the SCO as a full member will provide it an opportunity to have extended cooperation with member countries in areas of defence, security and counter-terrorism.

“I will travel to Uzbekistan for a brief visit to attend the SCO Summit and interact with leaders of SCO nations. India is glad to be a member of the SCO and looks forward to fruitful outcomes particularly in the field of economic cooperation through SCO,” the Prime Minister said in a statement before leaving for Tashkent.

He said India attached great importance to ties with Central Asia and always sought to expand economic and people-to-people ties with the region.

Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Sujata Mehta on Wednesday said “The process of India’s accession to the SCO will start with a signature on the base document which is called the Memorandum of Obligations“.

Asked whether India would become a full member of the SCO, she said there was a schedule laid down for India to sign over 30 other documents and it will happen as the year goes by.

Our Correspondent Kallol Bhattercherjee adds:

A long-drawn process lies ahead for India to complete its entry into the SCO, confirmed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday, maintaining that India seeks “fairly flexible multilateralism” in its “extended neighborhood.”

“At this upcoming summit, the process of India’s accession to the SCO will start with a signature on the ‘base document’, which is called the ‘Memorandum of Obligations’,” said Ms. Mehta,” highlighting that the issue of expansion of the SCO was a part of a long-drawn multilateral discussion.

A diplomatic source confirmed that India will attend the summit as an “Acceding Member” but will speak from the category of “Observers.”

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